We sailed to Port Credit for the start of the last two LOSHRS races on a sunny September Friday. The wind was behind us most of the way, so we poled out the jib and rocked along. We did set off a little later than we had planned, after lunch instead of before, but we arrived in good time to go to the race meeting and to enjoy a latish supper upstairs. We claimed our yellow series flag from the organizers, also set up upstairs, and declined the engraved coffee cups, a decision we may later regret. But anything we take we must find space for, and space is always at a premium.
The rest of the story of the weekend was a tale of two very different races. Race one (race five in the series) was Saturday, sailing from Port Credit Yacht Club to Port Dalhousie, about twenty-five miles. Race two was back to Port Credit the next day.
We set off in light winds on Saturday, and except for an unplanned dip over the line before our start and a subsequent circle back behind it we had a relatively good start. Obviously we are still rusty, but at least we did better than in the 100 mile race. The flag dropped, we recrossed the line and were off.
The water was lumpy and the wind too light to give us much drive if we sailed close-hauled. For a while we sailed further off the wind than we wanted just to keep moving. Then the wind started to pick up, and we were able to sail a little closer. That was when Richard realized that each time he got the jib trimmed just so and the boat started moving well the sail would lose its shape. Frustrating. Finally the wind picked up to the point where we had to put one reef in, then a second one. Then we found we had to sail off the wind again because the jib was so stretched we could not flatten it.
Rain came and I retreated into the cabin for a while. After the rain the wind dropped again to a point where we should have been able to sail with just one reef in the main. Unfortunately that old sail is also stretched and the excess belly in it made the boat heel too much for speed and comfort. ( In hindsight it would have been better to sail with that one reef and let the sail off in gusts, and to sail more loosely so we could keep the boat speed up. But that was then and this is now, and you know what they say about hindsight.)
While the boat was well heeled over we were reminded that we need to reseal the rub rail. Water came through in some places and dripped down behind the (luckily waterproof) insulation, exiting close to the floor. Not much of it, but enough to notice. After that Richard decided not to drive the boat quite as hard. I expect he was thinking about the clean-up that might follow.
So we kept going on the same course but further off the wind than was best. Finally it was time to tack. As the bow came around the knot attaching the sheets to the jib caught on the shroud, the jib flapped, caught on the winch on the mast and ripped. I saw the sky through a half-moon shaped hole, but there was nothing much to be done at that point. We were just lucky that it was close to the end of the race.
We tacked back for the line. We could see bad weather coming; what we could not see was the mark that should have been in line with the committee boat. Graham, the PRO, came on the radio and told us just to sail for the marina passing close to the committee boat. The mark had moved.
We asked if we had crossed the line as we drew closer to the Port Dalhousie Marina, where we would be staying overnight (along with most of the race boats), and were told yes, head in. Shortly after that the committee boat also headed in under dark and threatening skies; we could see the approaching rain and knew that there was the threat of thunderstorms. Richard went forward to pull up the lazyjacks so we could drop the main, and as the rope moved over the reef in the sail the mainsail also ripped. We now had two repairs to do.
The marina was, shall I say, interesting. We tried to call in and there was no response, but we headed in and found ourselves a berth anyway. There were plenty to choose from, so we looked for one with relatively little in the way of goose droppings on the finger. Richard went in to say we were there, the second-to-last boat to arrive, and to pay for our slip. The thunderstorm arrived shortly after he came back. We thought about going out, but with all that weather we decided to have a short nap instead. We woke up to wet darkness. We had everything with us, so we made supper, ate and went to sleep.
The next day we were up early and out on the deck trying to repair the holes in our sails. We had very little sail tape left – we’ve been repairing these old sails for a while. We used the rest of it on the jib, and then had none left for the main. We looked for alternatives, tried band aids, packing tape and then red tape, but none stuck on the damp sail. Finally Richard hunted his heat gun out from the bottom of one of the lockers to dry the sail, and the red tape stuck well enough for us to hope it would carry us through.
We were among the first out of the marina. The mark for the start had been changed and was further away. The wind was supposed to be lightish and behind us; the forecasters were right about the light part. The lighter boats were able to get going and those using flying sails quickly put up their lightest, biggest foresails. We struggled. After three hours we had only traveled five miles, and we suspected that was partly because of the current in the area. If we kept going at that pace we would be late back to Port Credit and it would be impossible to get back home from there at a reasonable time. Reluctantly we made the decision to withdraw and sail for home instead. Going directly from where we were would only be a little longer than going to Port Credit.
We notified the race committee, furled the jib, turned the motor on and waved goodbye to the crew aboard a boat not far away. After that we moved along steadily. At one point it rained, and once again I chose to stay dry in the cabin, but there were also hours of sun and at times a light wind that we could use to motorsail. A distant laker passed, a couple of flies tried their luck ankle biting, we saw other sailboats in the distance. As it grew later we used a little more power, and arrived at Bluffers just after the sun went down. Light still lingered in the sky and red clouds were reflected in the water of the marina as we turned into our slip.
It was a good weekend of sailing, in spite of not doing the second race. 16 miles to Port Credit, a 25 mile race, 5 miles of trying to sail and 28 miles of motor-sailing. We covered 74 miles all told and spent a lot of hours out on the lake.
More interesting than sitting at the dock!
Written by Margaret Mair